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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  December 1, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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but don't laugh. don't get carried away with the late-night guys making fun of them. the last time i laughed, it was at george bush, and we have three years out of him and still trying to recover. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now.ç newton's latest law, what goes down must come up. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews up in hartford, connecticut. leading off tonight, brave newt world. when you're leading in the a polls, you sidly find yourself with a big, fat target on your back. and that's the position newt gingrich is now in. mitt romney is now blasting the former speaker as a washington insider, and it takes one to know one, a flip-flopper! and ron paul has a scathing new video highlighting newt's
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hypocrisy. but newt is reveling in all this, saying the race for the republican nomination now boils down to newt versus anti-newt. that he's the true conservative that he, newt, led the effort in congress to defeat communism. how could we have forgotten that one? and then the dow's nearly 5700- -- 500-point jump yesterday raises this question -- if the economy does pick up, is mitt romney really the best candidate for the republicans? a better economy neutralizes the one advantage romney has over the rest of the field. you know, if the car's running, who needs some guy tinkering under the hood? we're going to ask the "hardball" strategist about that. what happens when the old playbook gets thrown out the window? and herman cain won't make a decision about his stumbling campaign, he says, until he sits down face-to-face with his wife and as someone said today, when you have to have a meeting with your wife, you're already in trouble. and the man who shot
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president reagan wants more freedom, can you believe it? but when the secret service ç found him, john hinckley, browsing books about presidential assassinations, is freedom really the answer? ron reagan, the son of the former president, doesn't think so and he joins us tonight. michele bachmann says there won't be an american embassy in iran if she's president. that's a promise she can keep. there hasn't been a functioning embassy in iran since 1999 michele. mark mckinnon is a former adviser to george w. bush and "time" magazine's mark halperin is nbc's senior political analyst. by the way, the cover of "time" magazine this week is what, it's a picture of mitt romney with the question "why don't they like me?" mark, this has been a hell on wheels week for this guy. i've never seen a whiplash situation like the one he's facing. he was zooming along and all of a sudden the economy gets better, newt's racing to the top of the polls, all of a sudden it
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looks like mitt's not the one. >> well, that's what's fun about politics, chris. you can just keep throwing conventional wisdom out the window. you know, newt's taking off here, and lazarus is now wearing the newt suit, and mitt romney's trying to attack him as being a bigger flip-flopper, but i don't think this is going to come down who's the bigger flip-flopper, i think it's going to come down to, who has the biggest cojones. american voters want someone strengthened, someone bold. that's the problem with romney. he reminds me of the old walter mondale theme, dare to be cautious. that's not what voters are looking for. >> let's go to mark halperin. it's confusing now with two marks, but same analysis to you. what happened here? why is newt sky-high now and all of a sudden mitt doesn't look aç all inevitable? >> romney's had a very bad ten days and gingrich has been a force on the party for a long time.
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mark mckinnon's right, the party wants someone who's bold and romney's colorless. i think people forget, there's no one like newt gingrich in american politics today, in either party. he was speaker of the house, but he's got a 30-year relationship with the grassroots of his party and a public image. there's no one else i can think of in either party who's like that. he's got flaws galore, but so does romney. and right now, i defy anybody in politics, as mark mckinnon suggested, to tell you how this is going to end. romney, two of his worst states, iowa and south carolina, are good states for gingrich. and if the rest of the conservatives fall away and gingrich can consolidate that vote, it's a very tough puzzle for romney to solve. >> so let me ask you quickly before we get elements of this show, the facts we've got to present, back to you mark halperin, this time, is the job prescription of the republican nominee, the party base wants right now, someone to fix the economy or is it someone to smash the president in the face during a debate? what's the job description? >> well, i think it's both, really.
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and for romney, the challenge is to be more like gingrich, to be someone who can show that forcefulness against the president. he actually does it on the stump pretty well. but right now, he's no match for gingrich. i think newt gingrich needs to get over that hump on the economy and to be seen as a plausible president. the endorsement of the union leader was one little building block. polls showing him doing better, head to head, than he's been doing against the president. but he needs to convince a group of voters, particularly in the establishment, that he is going to be credible in the economy. the voters want both. >> i think the right wing wants to put an s.o.b. in the ring with the president, they hate him so much. they want a fellow hater, who can gas the president with hatred in his face, and romney doesn't have the equipment for that.ç politico reports, "they'll point out gingrich's past policy shifts, which can protect them from attacks against romney's own inconsistencies. they'll highlight gingrich's conservative apostasies as a hedge against romney's own moderate views. and they'll highlight his stable family while leaving the unspoken impression about
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gingrich's two divorces." romney isn't the only one going after newt gingrich, by the way. ron paul released a web ad today with over two minutes of flip-flopping and criticisms. here's just a portion of that ad. let's watch. >> and a real question of seriousness -- seriousness -- seriousness. >> everything that gingrich railed against when he was in the house, he went the other way when he got paid to go the other way. >> you're an embarrassment to our party. >> he's flipped and flopped based on who's paying him. >> he's demonstrating himself to be the very essence of the washington insiders. >> it's about serial hypocrisy. >> it's wrong to go around and adopt radically different positions, because then people have to ask themselves, what will you tell me next time? >> mark, mark mckinnon, how's that going to hurt gingrich? people already don't like him. this isn't about miss congeniality. it seems like they're just saying, this the guy's a nemesis, but don't they want to put a nemesis in the ring with the president, someone
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to beat him um? again, my thinking. >> they do, but i think that's an effective attack coming from ron paul as opposed to mitt romney. paul, at least, is ideologically consistent. that's a pretty good attack line. and actually, iowa could easily turn into a race between gingrich and ron paul. you know, timing is everything. and romney decided to sort of double down in iowa about a week ago, just a couple of days ç before gingrich took off. so, you know, i think from what i saw right there, it's a pretty effective attack. but, again, i think gingrich, as mark halperin said, he's bigger than life, and republicans have a long relationship with him. so they're going to forgive. and this whole notion of romney playing the family card, i think that's problematic. because republican voters and evangelicals, they love a redemption story and gingrich has got that redemption story down pretty well. >> let me go to that question with you, mark. i know this is a tricky business. it has to do with religion. once we get past these early tests, and you've been through
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this cycle a number of times, mark halperin, once we get through these early tests of iowa and new hampshire, get down to the deep south, for example, and you have to deal with a lot of baptist voters who are evangelical, will they have a bigger problem with a guy who's had a couple of divorces or with a guy who's lds, a mormon? >> i think if gingrich can harness that redemption story that mark mckinnon mentioned, he is a stronger candidate. he's, of course, a southerner, and he's someone that the party knows. and that's baked into the cake about how they think about newt gingrich. i wouldn't gloss over those early states. mitt romney is still the odds-on favorite to be the republican nominee. he still has organizational strength and resources and he's performing well out on the stump most days. the key for gingrich is to win the early states. to win iowa, to do better than expected in new hampshire, to win south carolina. romney has thought all along, well, i can lose iowa and i can lose south carolina, but that required a muddy field, lots of different people doing well. if gingrich has a good 30 days and consolidates, wins iowa,
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wins south carolina, i would bet on him to win florida, where ç there's some polls showing that he's doing well. and if romney loses those three states, it's going to be hard for him, i think, to turn things around anytime soon. >> well, you say he's still the favorite. is he still the favorite to win two of those first three? where do you see him winning besides new hampshire, mark halperin? >> it's tough. it's tough to see. look, i still think he can win iowa. gingrich could easily have a decline. he's got different skills than the other republican conservatives we've seen have declines, but he still could have a decline, ron paul could go well enough. rick perry's superpac could go on tv. he could still win in iowa, win in new hampshire and end it. i think that's the most likely outcome. if he doesn't, after new hampshire, it's hard to see where he wins symbolically that's important. he's going to have to grind it out at that point, and they're prepared to do that by spending big and winning delegates, which is, if you can get through the early states and be standing, is the way you become the nominee. >> and you're talking romney here, right? >> yeah. >> let's take a look last night
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on fox, on hannity's show. here's gingrich taking a swipe at mitt romney while promoting his own rise in the ranks. let's watch him in action. >> people say, you know, i think we need newt gingrich because we need somebody who can debate obama, we need somebody who's actually done it before, we need somebody with very substantial, big ideas. and so i think whereas i would have thought originally, it was going to be mitt and not mitt, i think it may turn out to be newt and not newt. and that's a very different formula than frankly -- i'm having to redesign our campaign strategy, because we're at least 60 days ahead of where i thought we'd be. >> wow, there's mitt -- there's newt gingrich saying how great he is in front of a christmas tree. he's his own christmas present to himself, this guy. he's theç happiest egomaniac i've ever seen in my life. let's take a look at newt last night. he seems to have taken some personal credit for the fall of communism. why not, while you're at it. during his tenure as speaker, he
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had a lot to do with bringing gorbachev to bear. let's watch. >> i'm clearly the more conservative candidate by any rational standard. i had a 90% american conservative yuj standing for i helped develop supply-side economics. i helped lead the effort to defeat communism in the congress. >> well, what do you think of that, mark mckinnon? those history books got to be a little bit adjusted now for the newt role. it wasn't reagan, it wasn't gorby, it was newt gingrich. >> well, he's bigger than life and he fills the stage and he's confident and he's brash. but, again, voters don't vote on single issues in presidential elections, they vote on attributes. and by far the most important attribute of all is a perception of the candidate being strong. and you stack up gingrich against romney on that asset, you know, he blows it away.
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>> so you're betting right now, you're saying it looks like the odds go with mark mckinnon, you say the odds still are looking to go with gingrich right now, is that right? is that your view? >> well, he's going to sweep the south. just thinking about what mark was just saying and what you were talking about having to win two of those first three states. well, i think it may be new hampshire, but i remember he's at new hampshire right now, exactly where he was four years ago. and he's just the guy next door, that support is very thin. you can see how gingrich or huntsman can rise pretty well in new hampshire. and so now he sort of has to win iowa in order to win two of the first three. >> i think we're at a tipping point right now -- ç >> we have two gospels of mark. the gospel of mark halperin is it's still mitt's to lose. the the gospel of mark mckinnon is, this is the coming argument, not quite there yet, the mark mckinnon argument is that newt is inevitably moving up and he can't be stopped. he's the s.o.b. they've been looking for under their christmas tree. coming up -- that's my words. anyway, coming up, mitt romney says his business background means he's the best republican to beat obama. still, but what happens if, this
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is an if, the economy really starts to perk up, as it's begun to do the last few days. is mitt still the one to tinker in your hood if the car's running? you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. you name it.
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welcome back to "hardball." after yesterday's spectacular stock market surge, plus huge retail sales numbers over the thanksgiving weekend, could there finally be signs americans can feel that the economy's improving? well, plus, cable tv seems to have rewritten rules for retail politics in a presidential race. has the power of face-to-face, one-on-one politicking, especially in early caucus and primary states been replaced now by the tv debate and by tv interviews, especially on the republican side on fox? these are the questions for our strategist today. number one, with mitt romney selling himself as the businessman candidate, who'll save the economy, could a better economy be bad for mitt? number two, how does this new political playbook with tv being so important change the game foç both democrats and republicans? steve mcmahon, our buddy on the democratic side, he's a strategist. todd harris, our buddy on the republican side. gentleman, it's great to have you. let me start with todd harris about this game change and your side. if you're going to pick the
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perfect opponent to go against barack obama when the economy is tanking, is that romney the businessman? if you're looking for the perfect candidate to go after him when the economy's getting a little better, do you just go after the street fighter who will beat him up, and on the way to beating him up, beat him? todd harris? >> well, i think that's going to be the big question, going forward. with the economy in such bad shape, mitt romney's really been able to ride his business experience, saying what washington needs is somehow who has this kind of experience, who can turn the economy around. and if come january, as no reason to think that things are going to turn around dramatically between now and then, but if republicans are looking for a problem solver, a guy who's going to roll up his sleeves, they're probably going to look to romney. if suddenly they think the economy might be getting better and someone they want is someone with big ideas, they'll probably look to newt. as of right now, i'm a fan of both, but i think given the
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dynamics, i think rom any's still in the driver's seat. >> steve mcmahon, you're looking at this across the aisle, steve. i see newt coming up, and i see him coming up, because he will punch the president in the face. he'll be much more aggressive in a debate. he'll be snarky, obnoxious. he'll be offensive, but he will put on a better show if you want a real fighter, a gladiator, than romney, who looks like a gentleman compared to gingrich. steve? >> yeah, he looks like a ken doll.ç and you're absolutely right, chris. newt gingrich, you know, he's famous for his hyperbolic rhetoric, bold, radical, transformational change. you can see from the polling data and see this for a long time now, the primary republican electorate isn't warming to mitt romney. he's been at 23, 24, 25 consistently. and now the next alternative to romney, newt gingrich, who's a true conservative, who has won before, who the republicans know and like, i think he won't wear well, but he's wearing well right now and he might wear well
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enough so that mark mckinnon will be proven right. i think newt gingrich could very well be the nominee of the republican party. >> you know, todd, we're looking at a picture of a very handsome candidate here. in many ways, you could say he's the arch type archetypal presidential candidate, mitt romney. look at this guy. but there's something about him that doesn't quite click. even when he, quote, rolls up his sleeves, he keeps the collar right and the tie perfect and the hair perfect. it's like he's been told, roll up your sleeves, but he doesn't show that body language of a guy who's really out there sweating and fighting like a real club fighter. i know you're going to defend him here, but try to see it my way. i'm trying to figure out what's going on here. it looks like newt is moving into the front of this debate, and romney is fading, and it's not just "time" magazine with his cover that says, "why don't they like me?" that's fading. >> well, i think there's no question. i will readily concede that mitt romney doesn't always do the best connecting on a personal level with people.
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but neither did barack obama in 2008, and neither has president obama over the last several years. so i don't think ultimately that is going to be the most important criteria in terms of ç winning. if the economy is in the tank a year from now and people don't feel like it's getting better, they don't feel like president obama is leading the country in any discernible direction, they're going to look to a problem solver, and that is what romney has built his entire campaign around, and so far, i think it's been pretty effective. >> okay. so we know the distinction here, the argument. let's take a look at mitt romney's latest ad, it touts his business credentials again, his main selling point in his bid to be president. here's part of the ad. let's watch. >> i spent my life in the private sector. i've competed with companies around the world. i've learned something about how it is that economies grow. the right answer for america is to stop the growth of the federal government and to start the the growth of the private sector. >> i think we might have another division on our hands. just quickly, show of hands, steve, do you think the
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nominee's going to be newt or mitt? >> right now, i think it's going to be newt, unless mitt picks up his game and starts actually engaging. >> todd, who's the candidate likely to be from this day forward? >> well, newt's making a hell of a comeback, but if i had to bet right now, my money would still be on romney. >> let's look at the traditional rules of politics, they're being rewritten in this presidential cycle. in "new york times" today, jeff zeleny puts it this way, "in what is shaping up as a profound change in american politics, the living room stops and the cafe visits where candidates offer handshakes and make appeals for support are creeping toward extinction. it's been five decades since television began to transform presidential races, but never before have the effects of cable television been so apparent in the early stages of a campaign. the latest sign can be found inç a resurgence of newt gingrich." now, my question to you. and we talked it over with our
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producer, if only 2 million watch a debate, or 5 million on fox, their home court, the viral nature of the clips, the way they get around, the bad moments, the flubs, the screwups, let's talk about it, todd, it seems to be so exponential, so explosive. you could lose a campaign, it seems, in one bad night with a half a million people watching. >> well, as we've seen over the course of the past year, you can lose your campaign in one night and then find it again the next day and recover and go on to a second act. there's no question there technological advances have made some significant changes, but i think what is equally important and what is missing from that conversation is the fact that for republican voters, this election is a referendum about the very direction of the country. this election is about big things. and it used to be that you'd go to iowa and you'd talk about ethanol and you'd go to new hampshire and talk about the northeast dairy compact, and all these things that meant a lot to
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the local voters. all these issues seemed very, very small in comparison to the big questions that we're talking about right now. >> your thoughts, steve? the same thing? same assumption? it's the big issues as well as the big screen, the big tube? >> well, it's the big issues, but it is a big screen. and i was there during the dean campaign when cable television, after he gave his iowa victory speech, played that 700 times in the next week, and there was a 20-point lead in new hampshire that evaporated almost overnight. >> it is scream speech? >> -- over time with the swift vote. john kerry saw it with the swift boats in 2004. and rick perry can tell you all about how one moment in a debatç on television repeated 150 or 200 or 500 times can take your campaign down, because it's taken his down. this is the first time, though, chris, i think that cable television has actually brought somebody back from the dead. which is really what's happening with newt gingrich here. it's been a remarkable transformation, and it's been
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solely on the power of his debate performance. he's been very, very effective in the debates. i don't agree with what he's saying, but the republican base sure likes it. and you can see it in his numbers today. >> well, i'd have to say that resurrection has never looked so unappealing. anyway, thank you very much steve mcmahon and todd harris. harris, you just love this stuff. up next, michele bachmann's latest gaffe is a real head-scratcher. how does bachmann, who sits on the intelligence committee, not know a crucial fact about our relationship with iran? stick around for the sideshow, where she belongs. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. we're america's natural gas and here's what we did today: supported nearly 3 million steady jobs across our country... ... scientists, technicians, engineers, machinists... ... adding nearly 400 billion dollars to our economy... we're at work providing power to almost a quarter of our homes and businesses... ... and giving us cleaner rides to work and school... and tomorrow, we could do even more. cleaner, domestic, abundant and creating jobs now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power, today. learn more at anga.us.
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back to "hardball." now for the side show. we've got a doozy tonight. first up, scuffle on the floor. what led to a little senate floor spat yesterday between arizona senator john mccain and new yorker chuck schumer? well, it was a debate over a defense bill that would ultimately allow terrorism suspects to be detained indefinitely on u.s. soil. mccain argued that the supreme court had already addressed the issue in a previous case. but listen here for the dig by mccain at schumer's backyard. s timplgts isn't it true that justice o'connor was specifically referring to a case of a person who was captured on long island? last i checked, long island was part, albeit, sometimes regrettably, part of the united states of america. >> well, the senator from new york raced then to his battle station.
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"all of america saw how heroic long islanders were on 9/11," schumer tweeted. "long island deserves an apology." well, less than an hour later, mccain took the senate floor again. >> i'm sorry that there's at least one of my colleagues that can't take a joke, and so i apologize if i offended him and hope that someday he will have a sense of humor. >> well, not quite the apology schumer was looking for. his follow-up tweet, "new yorkers can take a joke, but if senator john mccain wants to mock parts of america, stick to arizona." ladies and gentlemen, this is what's wrong with american politics right now. this. up next, if you thought rick perry would take the cake for campaign gaffe of the week for not knowing the legal voting age is 18, it might be time to reconsider. enter michele bachmann.ç on the recent raid on the british embassy over in iran, do you think this kind of ruckus would occur under the bachmann administration? let's hear it from the candidate
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herself. >> you may have heard that there was a break-in at the british embassy and the british had to pull their people out. that's exactly what i would do. we wouldn't have an american embassy in iran. i wouldn't -- i wouldn't allow that to be there, because they are a state sponsor of terror! >> well, she might have a tough time boarding up the american embassy in iran right now, since there hasn't been one there since the hostage taking in 1979. time to backpedal? far from it. instead, the bachmann camp released a statement saying, "she was agreeing with the actions taken by the british to secure their embassy personnel and was speaking in the hypothetical, that if she was president of the united states, and if we had an embassy in iran, she would have taken the same actions as the british." hmm. in other words, she's saying that what i said -- what she said -- isn't relevant to the situation. and we all know bachmann has company in the 2012 gop race
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when it comes to not having the facts straight. but newt gingrich thinks he's gotten to the bottom of the bachmann's tendency to get it wrong. here's what newt had to say in response to bachmann's recent attack to his position on illegal immigration. >> some people are just factually challenged. it's unfortunate we don't have a teacher, when we have a student who couldn't figure out what things were or where things were or what the right date was, you know. when that happens, you feel sorry that they're so factually challenged. so newt gingrich has wasted no time making it clear that he feels quite the opposite of his, quote, factually challenged opponents.ç up next, herman cain says he won't decide whether to stay in the presidential race until he talks face-to-face with his wife. will she see things the way he does, that those allegations are all part of a plot to make newt gingrich the nominee? i'm sure she'll see it that way. this is "hardball" on msnbc. usa prime credit... this peggy... hi, i'm cashing in my points... peggy?
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hey there. here's what's happening. al qaeda saysç its holding an american hostage in pakistan. a statement was released saying an aid worker will be released if the u.s. stops conducting air strikes in afghanistan and pakistan. hurricane-force santa ana winds are wreaking havoc in the western part of the country. secretary of state hillary clinton promised relax of restriction in response to reforms there. and a cran jockey on anti-government protests. islamics appear to have won a strong majority of seats, and spectators enjoyed lovely weather as the president and first family lit the national christmas tree outside the white house earlier this evening. i'm veronica de la cruz. now back to "hardball."
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it ain't over until it's over. >> amen. >> yes. >> a few of our warm weather supporters have, you know, gotten off the cain train, but the good news is many of our solid supporters are still on. and once we clear up this most recent accusation, i think a lot of people are going to aee it for what it was worth. >> they've got to bottle this guy's self-confidence. welcome back to "hardball." that was herman cain, of course, last night, saying the cain train has not yet come to an end. he said he'll make a decision about the future of his campaign for president in the next few days after sitting down face to face with his spouse, for the first time, actually, since the adultery allegation broke, for a sustained, obviously, allegation. he said he's been on the phone. if you watch cain in the media
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these past few days, you've heard him lay out his defense, which is that the allegations are all part of a massive conspiracy against him cooked up. he said the democrats see him as their worst nightmare. he says, quote, the establishment wants to bring him down because he's too unconventional. and the media distorts the facts again and again. it's the media, it's the democrats, it's the establishment. everyone seems to think his campaign, by the way, except him, is over. many conservatives say it's time for him to throw in the towel. the christian science monitor today likened his candidacy to a zombie. "he's still moving forward, but there's not much vitality left in his campaign." that's pretty tough. so is he going to call it quits? and if not, what's that mean for the rest of the field? contamination factor here, i'd say. michael steele is a former rnc committee chair and msnbc analyst, and a great one, and bob shrum as well, a strategist. michael steele, you're close to
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these guys, you're a republican. and i just wonder, from a personal sense, it seems to me there's absolutely no gain to this fellow, that i like. if he throws in the towel now, he is basically saying, for the history books, you got me. i cheated on my wife, i'm not a good guy. i'm not only a bad candidate, i'm a bad guy, a bad husband. doesn't he have to stick it out, at least for a while, at least come up with some other reason to leave the campaign besides the charge of infidelity? >> i think there's a lot of truth to what you're saying there, chris. no one wants to go out that wayç no one wants to go out of a campaign like this, and an historic one, quite frankly, the first african-american to pursue the republican nomination for president, the way he has or with the success he has. so i think right now, this reassessment that he's going through is taking that into consideration. certainly the conversation with gloria, his wife, is paramount, very important. not just the phone messages, but the face to face is going to really be more telling than anything else coming out of that. whether or not he goes forward.
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and i think, ultimately, looking at this thing from a political strategy standpoint, there's no really incentive for him to get out right now. as you've already talked about and as bob knows, the dynamics on the republican side are such that you don't need to have a lot of cash to stay in this thing, you don't need to have a lot of that momentum because of the ebb and flow. so i think he can wade through early january and see where he is. >> herman cain told "the newspaper newspaper union leader" this afternoon, news here, that his wife didn't know about his friendship with ginger white, the woman who accused him of having the affair. he said, "my wife did not know about it and that was the revelation. my wife found out about it when she went public with it. my wife and i have talked about it and i have explained it to her. my wife understands that i'm a soft-hearted, giving person." by the way, cain added, she's comfortable with the explanation that i gave her. well, that's his explanation. bob shrum, let's not be sadistic here. this guy's got problems. he's probably not going to be a nominee for either party.
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i guess the question is, does he hurt the other party candidates by sticking around, as you suggested, michael steele, for a couple of months up on that debate platform? >> if he sticks around, he's going to help romney some. if you look at the favorables, unfavorables among his voters, his voters overwhelmingly move ç towards gingrich and it would amplify the momentum that gingrich has. in a new poll today, he has a 21-point lead. but i think in the end that it's all over but the 9-9-9'ing. his support is going to decline, and it's not just a function of these scandals. the truth is, and the scandals have tended to obscure it, that for all of the charisma he has, all of the interest that he brings to this race, his sort of likability, the fact is that he's displayed an astounding degree of incoherence and confusion about issues ranging from abortion to libya. i don't think he was ever going to be the republican nominee. he might help mitt hold on, but if he gets out and his vote
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declines, it's all going to go to gingrich. >> what do you make of his charges? is he charging -- the democrats saying they fear -- they want newt as the opponent. now, let me ask you a question. is there any logic to that, michael, as a republican strategist? do you think the democrats want newt? and therefore they want to get rid of any opponent? >> look, i believe the democrats, at least the ones i have talked to in the last few weeks, especially, really feel very confident that they're going to have in the president the ability to take on whoever the republican nominee is. so from that standpoint, strategically and politically, it doesn't make sense from my perspective for the democrats to play this ball right now. why would you put in play something that could potentially you know, damage a potential nominee for the republican party next fall, why would you do it today? it makes no sense. so i've never really bought into this theory that this is all ç
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coming from the left and that the democrats want newt gingrich or they want some other candidate in play. i think, as i said before and will restate again, this is an inside job. this is something that was bubbled up from the bottom of the gop well to damage the momentum and eventually stop herman cain in his tracks. >> wait a minute. you believe it's another candidate involved in this? >> i don't know if it's necessarily -- it doesn't necessarily mean it's another candidate. i mean, there are operatives in the gop beyond a political campaign who may have other interests and other designs in place. in fact, i know that footprint very well, because it was placed on my backside more than once. so i'm more than familiar with the handiwork here, and i've expressed that personally to herman. and i think that, you know, he needs to be mindful of the fact that there are a lot of things at work here, a lot of interests that go beyond, you know, the historic nature of his campaign. >> do you think there's an ethnic aspect to this?
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>> no, i don't think it's so much that, chris. you know, i'm sure you can peel that onion and start to cry at some point, but i think, you know, just at the surface level, no, i don't think that that's the motivation here. a lot of folks like the idea that, you know, you have an african-american of his qualifications and caliber running for the nomination of the party. but then it gets to a point where there are, like i said, other interests that come into play. and those tend to take over. it has very little to do with race. >> let me go back to what looks to be the front running situation. shrummy, you and i have watched this game for 50 years -- well, i think it is getting on 50. >> almost. >> certainly since we were kids, we've watched this. i have never seen a warp speed politics like this in my life. i get chills. it's moving so darne fast, so damned fast right now. mitt romney's now on the cover of "time" magazine tonight as a guy who's whining, as a guy who says, why don't they love me? they took away my blanky, i'm so upset.
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he had the wind at his back hours ago. and now newt gingrich has come back. somebody said the word lazarus. i don't want to dump on the new testament, but lazarus is a pretty good example. he's come back from the deathbed. this is a new law of physics, what comes down must come back. what is this guy doing? shrummy, what's wrong new is this country, on right at least, so angry, so confused that they can't think? >> no, i think the people on the right are thinking. they look at romney, they're suspicious of romney, they're not sure he means what he says. they don't want to trust him with the presidency. and in politics, timing, as you know, chris, is everything. and the timing worked out for newt. everyone else got their audition. newt didn't get his, because he got in trouble months ago for saying the paul ryan medicare plan was right-wing social engineering. he got put off to the side. and he was the last guy standing after a series of very good
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debate performances, who was a plausible nominee, and the support is all flowing to him, and you're seeing christian evangelicals move toward him. and he's saying to them, look, i did some bad things in the past. i did some things i regret. >> okay, great. >> i'm sorry for them. and i think newt has a real chance in this, although i still kind of think in the end, the republican establishment is going to try to push romney across the finish line. >> i'm beginning to think that the paul line privilege now extends to politics. think about that. you're both catholics. the whole privilege -- you know, previous marriages don't count. thank you, michael steele. thank you, bob shrum. and ginger white, the woman who says she had an affair with ç herman cain will be on "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell tonight at 10:00. that's in our world a good get. good for him. she'll make some news. up next, should john hinckley, the man who shot, he did do it, and nearly killed president reagan, be granted more freedom? ron reagan, the president's son, says no and he's coming here next. boy, he's going to have a lot of us agreeing with him. this is "hardball," only on msnbc. m falling ♪ ♪ i think i'm falling ♪ i think i'm falling
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secretary of state hillary clinton's in myanmar right now, the former burma. and she had dinner today with that country's most famous former political prisoner nobel laureate aung san suu kyi. she was released last year afteç two decades of imprisonment and says she'll run in the upcoming elections. president obama send her to myanmar after the country took on a series of democratic reforms after years of military rule. we'll be right back.
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[ knock on door ] cool. you found it. wow. nice place. yeah. [ chuckles ] the family thinks i'm out shipping these. smooth move. you used priority mail flat rate boxes. if it fits, it ships for a low, flat rate. paid for postage online and arranged a free pickup. and i'm gonna track them online, too. nice. between those boxes and this place, i'm totally staying sane this year. do i smell snickerdoodles? maybe. [ timer dings ] got to go. priority mail flat rate shipping at usps.com. a simpler way to ship. [ man #1 ] i was fascinated by balsa wood airplanes since i was a kid. [ man #2 ] i always wondered how did an airplane get in the air. at ge aviation, we build jet engines. we lift people up off the ground to 35 thousand feet.
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these engines are built by hand with very precise assembly techniques. [ man #3 ] it's gonna fly people around the world. safely and better than it's ever done before. it would be a real treat to hear this monster fire up. [ woman ] i think a lot of people, when they look at a jet engine, they see a big hunk of metal. but when i look at it, i see seth, mark, tom, and people like that who work on engines every day. [ man #4 ] i would love to see this thing fly. it's a dream, honestly. there it is. awesome. that's so cool! yeah, that was awesome! [ cheering ] i wanna see that again. ♪ we're back. it's been 30 years now since president reagan was shot outside the washington hilton
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hotel. now the man who pulled the trigger may be about to gain more unsupervised time away from the mental hospital where he's been confined. in 2009 the federal court granted hinckley 12 ten-day visits to his mother's home in virginia each month but now the hospital has asked the court to give hinckley extended visits home, two 17-day visits and six 24-day visits, before eventually allowing the mental hospital to decide whether or not hinckley can live indefinitely with his mother. joining me right now to talk more about whether or not hinckley should be released is ronald reagan jr., the son of president reagan and the author of a great book, "my father at 100." there it is. ron, you're as close to this as possible besides your mother and sister and otherç brother. what do you make of this possibility that this guy might get sprung? >> well, you know, i'm the last person on earth to do any favors for mr. hinckley, of course, but i try and look at this rationly. and when i do i keep coming back to three things. number one, the crime he was -- that he committed, attempting to
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assassinate the president, is not just any other crime. it's not just assault with a deadly weapon. this is the attempted decapitation of the united states government. it is a direct assault on our democracy. and as such, it needs to be treated very seriously. and i think some deterrent effect is in order here. second, as regards mr. hinckley himself, i'm no psychologist, but it appears that he has a narcissistic personality disorder on top of whatever other psychological difficulties he might have. narcissistic personality disorder means a grandiose sense of entitlement and an almost total lack of epgs for other human beings. in other words, he's a sociopath. number three, this is all aimed at getting him out, as you pointed out, leaving him free to wander unsupervised around the country. i don't much care if he gets to visit his mother and go to movies and things like that. but the idea of leaving a guy who did what he did and who has the psychological profile that he has unsupervised in society strikes me as monumentally
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unwise. >> well, he also strikes me as a liar on top of everything else. which is very important to try to talk about if he's going to get in any better shape mentally in his life. because apparently he just lies continually. >> yes. >> for example, you mentioned let him go to the movies. here it is. let's get his lawyer to make his case. and we'll get over to that. his lawyer says he's not a threat. in an opening statement -- in an opening statement to theç cour attorney barry levine said, "although he is flawed, he's fundamentally decent. this man is not dangerous. the evidence shows he is not dangerous." well, the federal prosecutors have made the point they did let him go to the movies one time with his mother and it turns out he went to sort of the place where you pay to go in, had a chat for the cameras, and then scooted over to a barnes & noble so he could look up books on assassinations, including -- >> that's right. >> -- assassination of your dad to sort of glory in his own name i.d. >> that's right. his mother drops him off at the ticket office. she drives off. he makes a beeline to the bookstore, heads right to that section on political
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assassinations to look up his day of infamy. i don't know what was on his mind, but that's not an encouraging sign. >> and the reason -- it isn't like he was one of these political guys like sirhan sirhan who had a palestinian cause or whatever. he did it to impress a movie actress whose name i refuse to use here. and he did it out of as you said narcissism. this seems this guy likes to get his name out there, he'd like to do it again. >> yes. what got him the most atetentio in life? trying to kill the president of the united states. it may be while he's with his mother she's a controlling influence on him. but she's elderly. >> 86. >> what happens when she passes away and he's out there on his own and somehow he gets insulted or aggrieved and his sense of entitlement kicks in and he decides that he needs to take matters into his own hands? well, we know what happens when that occurs, or at least we know what happened in the past. so again, leaving him unsupervised is really unwise. now, we can say that the secret service keeps an eye on him.
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that's how we found out about his little jaunt to the bookstore. they were watching him. undercover there. but i can tell you from experience, it is not impossible to evadeç a secret service detail. >> yes. well, thank you for that information from the inside. but i've got to tell you, i'm sure it was a positive experience for you. but this guy went to the point of memorizing the screenplay so he could convince the authorities that he had gone to the movies. he's got a criminal mind. it's pretty scary. ron reagan, thank you for coming. i know it's a deeply emotional thing with you. >> that's quite all right. >> as it should be. let me finish with how america, republicans and democrats alike, are leading the way on the global aids crisis. this is a good story for once. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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let me finish tonight with this. today is world aids day. president obama used the occasion of setting a new target of helping 6 million americans get treatment by the end of 2013. but listen to what bono wrote today in the "new york times." "today, here we are, seriously talking about the end of this global epidemic. there are now 6.6 million people on life-saving aids medicine. but still too many are being infected. new research proves that early anti-retroviral treatment, especially for pregnant women, in combination with male circumcision, will slash the rate of new h.i.v. cases by up to 60%. this is the tipping point we have been campaigning for. we're nearly there." how did we get here?
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america led. i mean really led. it's a tale of strange bedfellows, the gay community, evangelicals, and scruffy student activists in a weird sort of harmony. military men calling aids in africa a national security issue. a conservative president, george w. bush, leading the largest ever response to the pandemic. bill clinton, çarm-twisting dr companies to drop their prices. hillary rodham clinton making it policy to eradicate the transmission of h.i.v. from mother to child." on this world aids day, world aids day, i would like you to stop and consider what america has achieved in this war to defend lives lived far away and sacred principles at home. so a sign for hope and hard-needed evidence of what we can do in this country and in the world when we work together, right and left, gay and straight, black and white. it's simple. in fact, it's basic. but oh, so powerful. that's "hardball" for